Over the past three years, we have had some of the absolute most amazing experiences. We have been super fortunate to be able to travel as far and as long as we do with no serious mishaps (knock on wood). We have however had some pretty close calls. It is hard to pick up a camera when things are going wrong left and right so these moments you might have missed. Here is our top 3 scariest moments while living aboard:
After being in the same anchorage for awhile we have security knowing that the anchor is well dug in. Well sometimes getting too comfortable can get you in some trouble. In late September of 2017 we went to bed around 11pm. We were anchored in the Connetquote River just outside Billy’s parents house. We had been working on getting all of our preparations done for our upcoming trip to New England, so we were working hard and very tired. At about 3 A.M. I was awoken to what sounded like a train hitting us. I ran out of bed and looked out the window to see that we had drug anchor about a mile and Neverland was wedged in between someone’s dock pilings. When I got a better look I also got to see that the whaler was also wedged in the pilings but on the opposite side of the dock. Meanwhile, Neverland had been posted for sale on craigslist and we had a catamaran picked out to buy once our beloved Neverland was sold. When I saw the entanglement we were in I feared our dreams of sailing the Caribbean were crushed. But with some serious finagling, we managed to get the whaler free while quickly maneuvering Neverland through the multiple pilings with the whaler towing behind, all without ever coming in contact with the beautiful center console tied to the dock.
What we learned: Always, always, always, check the weather if you have the ability (we had full service and had no excuse for not being prepared). Put extra chain out if you know there are strong winds coming. If you are still unsure then dive the anchor and make sure it is set.
Getting an up to date weather report in the Bahamas is a little more difficult. We had spent May 2016 cruising around the Exumas. We had started making our way back toward Jupiter, Fl. During this time we had been through multiple squalls. We decided to stop and anchor off Highbourne Key for a few nights. 8 p.m. came around and the wind picked up dramatically and changed directions again. We were no longer protected from the wind by the island. The waves picked up and soon began to roll by us, bounce off the island, and come back for a second pass. We tried to continue eating dinner and even tried laying in bed but the boat was rocking terribly and things began to break. We decided cruising to Nassau during the night would be safer than staying anchored there. We picked up anchor and were soon met by the biggest lightning storm I have ever seen. The sky was lit up purple as strikes hit the water feet away from the boat. We turned off our autopilot feeling that a strike would ruin it. But then I had the worry of what would happen if we got hit while Billy was holding the metal steering wheel. Jetty seems to enjoy sitting on my head and drooling on me while we are in not so pleasant situations. I am not sure if she is scared her self or is just trying to be close to me but nonetheless it does not exactly help. I had a replaying nightmare in my head of our electronics going out, Billy getting struck, and Jetty and I lost at sea forever. We eventually made it to Nassau in one piece and spent the next day at a marina with the A.C. blasting and rested all day.
What did we learn: Again, try to keep an accurate account of upcoming weather. Have a lightning box to keep electronics in when you get into a nasty storm. Try to stay calm, I know we have the ability to get out of scary situations but it is hard for me to remember that while stuff does not go as planned (I am working on it). With Adrenaline I am also doing my very best to learn how to handle the boat on my own just in case Billy gets hurt and cannot assist.
By Far the Scariest!
We bought Neverland as a project boat. We spent countless hours sanding, painting, fiberglassing, varnishing and the list goes on and on. During our first month aboard I spent a lot of time painting her interior while Billy lifeguarded. Jetty has been stuck by my side since the day I rescued her. I know she will never run away and will always do her very best to keep everyone away from me, Billy, the boat, and our cars unless she absolutely trusts them. This means making routine walks around the boat to ensure no intruders are approaching. While I was painting inside I noticed Jetty was not next to me, ODD. I walked around the boat still no Jetty. By this point, I am screaming for her and trying to understand where she could have gone. I noticed the gateway to the swim platform was open. My yelling became louder and louder as I tried to search the area around the boat. Then I heard a faint bark in the distance. I saw her sitting, soaking wet, looking at me on a dock about 200 yards from where we were anchored. Thank goodness she was smart enough to swim to the closest shore. I would have been lost without my little side-kick.
What did we learn: Keep the gateway to the swim platform closed.. ALWAYS. We have tried to make Adrenaline as dog proof as possible but there are still a few places we need to keep an extra eye on. We have also been doing our best to make Jetty wear her PFD while we are sailing. To read more about our list of must have’s when traveling with a four-legged friend click here.
I have to say we have been very lucky these past few years. We will continue to do our best to keep all crew members as safe as possible while working on staying calm and productive in stressful situations.
What are your scariest moments while living aboard?
Thanks for reading.